Tadas Viskanta (@abnormalreturns) is founder of Abnormal Returns and has been its editor since its 2005 inception. The site is one of the top investment news aggregators on Twitter, with its daily links newsletter and Viskanta’s blogs. He is also the author of Abnormal Returns: Winning Strategies from the Frontlines of the Investment Blogosphere. Viskanta is an instructor of finance at Butler University and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago.
ETF.com: I've been wanting to interview you, not necessarily about ETFs, but about your site’s investment DNA, which seems similar to what we have at ETF.com. When did you start AbnormalReturns.com, and why?
Tadas Viskanta: In 2005, I got started in the financial blogosphere when it was just kind of getting up and running. Prior to that, I had written a book proposal on hedge funds and had been trying to market that, and was unsuccessful. But I still felt the desire and need to write on the topic involved. And so I started Abnormal Returns in 2005 and have kept going at it ever since.
ETF.com: I'm not familiar with it back in 2005. Has it been a main aggregate of financial stories from the start? Or was that something that evolved?
Viskanta: It certainly has evolved. When I first started it, I thought I was going to be much more of an active, opinionated blogger. I quickly realized that didn’t suit me or my personality or my skill set.
But the site evolved quickly. I would go to write something, and I would see that somebody else had already written on that, and had probably written it better than I could have. So it felt more honest to just link to what somebody else was saying. That's been the ethos ever since.
ETF.com: And just for people who aren’t familiar, you put out a morning roundup of links in a free email newsletter and on Twitter. And you also still write blogs.
Viskanta: I have a daily link which goes out right around lunchtime [East Coast] every day. There’s also usually every day a specialty link-fest on topics like ETFs and personal finance and things like that.
With my blog posts, it’s not something I'm plotting. I'm not looking for ideas. They really just come to me and I feel the need to, in a certain respect, get them off my chest. I might go a couple of weeks without writing a stand-alone blog post, and then write two or three in quick succession. There's really no rhyme or reason to it.
ETF.com: Do you consider yourself an investor, a journalist or both?
Viskanta: I'm definitely not a journalist. I've never claimed that. I don’t think that would be fair to people who are true journalists. I started off as an investor, and am still an investor. My viewpoint is from the perspective of an investor, and investors in general.
And I've never claimed for the site to be anything other than stuff that I find interesting. I don’t claim it to be some sort of comprehensive look at the world. I don’t feel the need to include things simply for the purpose of including them. It’s really stuff I find interesting. It may not be something I agree with, but it’s something that I hopefully find interesting.
I don’t really view it as a news site either. I hope the things I'm linking to and highlighting are things that have value a day later, a week later, maybe a month or a year later. I'm not trying to follow breaking news. There are certainly plenty of sources for that. I’m trying to offer little bit more of the bigger picture.